Monday, May 24, 2010

The Dandelion: Everything but that Pesky Little Flower

This weekend found DH and myself wanting to completely cleanse everything. We did 6 loads of laundry, washed the fabric of our stroller and went in search of wheat grass juice and various dandelion parts.
Just a few weeks after Thing 2 was born I started getting interested in 'medical herbalism'. The reason I put that in quotations is because I am no expert at anything really, and my admission of being interested in medical herbalism makes it sound like I am taking classes or something legitimate, when really I am just reading books and trying to self diagnose and cure myself of various things. Now do you see why I would put quotations around that?
I became interested in it so that I could eat natural things that would help my breastmilk production and avoid things that could limit it. But what started out as a self interest campaign became a fascination with the idea that basic foods (herbs) could perform great function within the body! I highly recommend the book The Herbal Handbook A User's Guide to Medical Herbalism by David Hoffman. He is a medical herbalist in Britain who has documented dozens of herbs and organized the books around their functions. I won't say that I am distrustful of medicine, I am grateful to be living during a time where being able to live through a whole host of illnesses is possible. But I do think that some basic herbs can do wonders for the body and we don't always have to get more powerful medicines involved.
So DH and I were sick last week and as we are better we'd like to flush out all the toxins in our body. So in Hoffman's book he mentions that dandelion leaves can act as a diuretic and help stimulate the body's release of water (and waste and toxins). Additionally a tea or tincture of dandelion root can help stimulate the liver's ability to function and thus cleanse in a different way. I found a dandelion root tinture at a local health food store and I found dandelion greens at the supermarket.
Well, DH and I laughed (or cried, I can't remember) our way through lunch. The salad of dandelion greens was just AWFUL. It was so bitter, I found myself swallowing and doing that involuntary shaking thing with my head. We even discussed how the salad was so bad that it was blog-worthy. The tincture was better, but held no dosing instructions, so I think we took too little. There probably isn't enough in the bottle for the two of us for more than a couple of days.
We never did find wheat grass juice by itself, but I know a place around my office that will grind some up for me. Did you know those crazy 'cleanse' programs you can buy on the Internet are based around wheat grass juice? Hoffman even mentions this in his book.
But I will say, I am feeling good from both 'treatments'. And I have plenty of dandelion greens left to mix into my salad for the resat of the week. However I won't be eating it straight anymore, I am absolutely going to mix it with some other salad mix!

Post Script 1: I now regret my title because a friend alerted me to Dandelion Wine yesterday. This is a wine easily made at home from dandelion flowers. Really the petals, but some recipes call for the whole flower head. so the whole plant is useful. Who knew? I will no longer look at them with disdain when I see them in the park. But I am not so sure I want to pick all the dandelion's out of a city park to make wine anyway. I have a feeling that the NYC park's department might take an issue with that even though they themselves would cut them off with a lawnmower. Hmmmmm. This may be a sister project to do in conjunction with the park's department. I might be just crazy enough.

Post Script 2: I have now had 2 days worth of dandelion treatments and I assure you they are working. I feel totally cleansed. I won't go into the details for your own sake. But this stuff really works!


  1. I've only ever eaten dandylion salad when Aidan's grandma picked it fresh from the garden, and I've found it makes a HUGE difference whether the leaves are big or small. The best is getting really fresh, really young (SMALL) leaves, which are not as bitter - the big ones are NOT good! Try it super-young and little, and maybe you'll have a better experience!

  2. Seriously. It's uncanny. I have also just recently ventured into the world of herbal medicine, and my DH and I are planning a cleanse at the beginning of June.

  3. Melody--you have to let me know how it goes. I am dying to try one of those, but I want to wait to fully cleanse until I wean the little one.